French Toast Casserole makes the perfect holiday breakfast for a large crowd! Easy to prep in advance and topped with a crunchy Cinnamon Pecan Streusel this baked french toast recipe saves you time in the morning and tastes so delicious.
We are heading into the holidays and one of my favorite things to do is make brunch for my family. I love to serve this recipe along with my Baked Oatmeal Recipe and my favorite Cranberry Orange Rolls (they’re so fluffy!!).
French Toast Casserole
Baked French Toast is the perfect warm breakfast dish to make for a large crowd or big family during the holiday season. This easy recipe comes together quickly the night before and you just have to sprinkle the topping over it in the morning and bake it.
But this recipe also works without overnight chilling so if you’re a morning person and have an hour to spare before everyone else wakes up you can make this cozy breakfast casserole too! Just follow my tips below and make sure to leave me a comment about how you manage to get out of bed so early.
This easy french toast bake is the perfect cozy, warm, family-friendly meal that is special enough for a holiday breakfast but easy enough to make every weekend this season. Serve it with maple syrup and everyone will want seconds, I promise!
Tips and Tricks on how to make the BEST French Toast Bake
- Use stale bread to make french toast otherwise you’ll end up with mushy, soggy slices. Cut the loaf in slices the day before and let them dry out on the counter or put the sliced bread on a wire rack and put them in a 300°F oven for 8 minutes.
- Don’t use soft bread for this recipe! A crusty french bread cut into slices and dried out overnight works best in my experience.
- If you’re refrigerating this casserole overnight I prefer to cut the bread in slices and just pour the custard over it instead of tossing the bread. This way the bread doesn’t get too soggy.
- Using half cream half milk gives the baked french toast a rich and custardy interior.
- You can assemble the streusel topping the night before or while you’re pre-heating the oven if you refrigerate the casserole overnight.
- Use quality ingredients! This recipe uses 8 eggs, for the best flavor use free range or organic eggs.
- As a proud Canadian resident, it’s my duty to tell you that you have to use pure Maple Syrup!
- You want to have a balanced ratio of crunchy exterior to custardy, creamy interior. That’s why I think the Streusel Topping makes this recipe better than other French Toast recipes because it adds more crunch.
Best bread for french toast bake
The best bread for a french toast casserole is a French or Italian Bread which you can get in any Supermarket. A 1 pound French Bread is the perfect amount of bread for this recipe. The bread should be stale, not hard like stone, but definitely dry and not fresh.
If you’re using a really soft bread the french toast will turn out mushy and soggy so make sure to use dry bread!
How to make French Toast Bake with no overnight chilling
If you want to bake this recipe right away cut the bread into cubes instead of slices (preferably the night before if you have a fresh loaf so it is stale the next morning). This way you can toss the bread cubes with the egg mixture and they get soaked faster without overnight chilling.
The Pecan Streusel Topping is so tasty! But if you can’t eat pecans or don’t have them on hand you can just leave them out or add the same amount of walnuts instead.
Tools and Ingredients used to make this Make Ahead French Toast Casserole
9×13 Baking Pan: I have this set of glass baking pans that come with lids! It’s perfect for storing leftovers.
Maple Syrup: Pure maple syrup is worth the splurge! I always have a big bottle on hand.
Grater: Grating the butter makes making streusel easier! I love this Grater because it comes with a container and works great!
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French Toast Casserole
For the French Toast:
- 1 loaf French bread, DRY, cut into 1-inch thick slices
- 8 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
For the Topping:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
- Grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with butter and arrange the dry bread slices in the baking dish in two rows. (The bread needs to be stale, see my tips above!)
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, heavy cream, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Pour evenly over the bread.
- Cover the baking dish with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate overnight. (See instructions for baking right away below!)
- To make the topping, mix flour, brown sugar, pecans, cinnamon, and salt together in a bowl. Grate the cold butter on top and mix until crumbly. Store in a plastic bag or container in the fridge.
- On the next morning, remove the casserole from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Sprinkle the topping over the french toast and bake, uncovered for 40-45 minutes until browned and set but soft in the middle. If it browns too fast cover with aluminum foil. (If you like your French Toast Casserole more set bake for a few more minutes.)
- Serve warm, drizzled with maple syrup.
To bake this French Toast Bake right awayCut the bread into large cubes the night before or make sure the cubes are dried out enough. Then toss the bread cubes with the egg mixture until all the liquid is absorbed. Transfer to casserole dish, sprinkle with streusel topping and bake according to the instructions.
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